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Critical droplets and metastability for a Glauber dynamics at very low temperatures. (English) Zbl 0722.60107

Summary: We consider the metastable behavior in the so-called pathwise approach of a ferromagnetic spin system with a Glauber dynamics in a finite two- dimensional torus under a positive magnetic field in the limit as the temperature goes to zero. First we consider the evolution starting from a single rectangular droplet of spins \(+1\) in a sea of spins -1. We show that small droplets are likely to disappear while large droplets are likely to grow; the threshold between the two cases being sharply defined and depending only on the external field. This result is used to prove that starting from the configuration with all spins down (\(-\underline 1\)) the pattern of evolution leading to the more stable configuration with all spins up \((+\underline 1)\) approaches, as the temperature vanishes, a metastable behavior: the system stays close to \(-\underline 1\) for an unpredictable time until a critical square droplet of a precise size is eventually formed and nucleates the decay to \(+\underline 1\) in a relatively short time. The asymptotic magnitude of the total decay time is shown to be related to the height of an energy barrier, as expected from heuristic and mean field studies of metastability.

MSC:

60K35 Interacting random processes; statistical mechanics type models; percolation theory
82C22 Interacting particle systems in time-dependent statistical mechanics
82C27 Dynamic critical phenomena in statistical mechanics
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